The Commonwealth Games are here and in full swing and sporting organisations across the country are gearing up for an influx of new, Games-inspired participants, that folk lore tells us will soon be beating down their doors. There’s nothing like a few gold medals to get Australians off the coach and into their sneakers…
All these budding new sports-champions-of-tomorrow means a lot more sports-related injuries. Ligament and muscle sprains are the most common kind of sports injury and while they’re generally not serious in nature, they can take some time to heal if not treated diligently.
Top 5 treatments for ligament and muscle sprains:
- Warm up
We all know we should do it but how many of us are guilty of launching ourselves onto the field, pitch, court or track at top speed? Some simple stretches and light limbering-up for 10 minutes before you begin is preferable to 6 months on the bench recuperating from a major tear injury.
- Chill out.
Ice has been described as the perfect anti-inflammatory for sports injuries, “but with none of the side effects”. An ice pack applied to the injured area will help reduce swelling and speed up recovery. Apply an ice pack for 20 minutes every couple of hours and do this for the first two days after you sustain the injury. Works wonders.
- Tools down.
Easier said than done. Unlike the elite professional athletes on the telly, the rest of us still have to front up to work, care for children and manage a range of day-to-day physical tasks. However rest has been proven to be the best medicine for sprains and strains, so try delegating house-hold tasks to other family members, put outings on hold and postpone activities like gardening and cleaning out the gutters.
However if it’s your ankle that’s injured don’t immobilise yourself completely – you still need to lightly exercise the affected area to maintain muscle condition and reduce the chance of re-injury. A physiotherapist can advise on what kind of light exercise is best for your particular injury.
- Appendages up
As much as you’re able, try to elevate the injured area above your heart, at least for the first 48 hours. Depending on where the injury is, this might require some creative thinking, a lot of cushions and a comfy couch – from where you can continue watching the Games!
- Some extra intervention
There are a range of pain-killing, anti-inflammatory medications, gels and patches on the market – some more effective than others. For injuries that are proving stubborn there are some lesser known but highly effective remedies including something called ketoprofen. In clinical trials, ketoprofen was shown to be “significantly better” than ibuprofen and/or diclofenac in relieving moderate to severe pain and in improving functionality.
Another of the sporting world’s little secrets is a compound called capscaisin. Made from chills, capscaisin controls pain by over-stimulating and then killing off the chemical responsible for the transmission of pain messages throughout the body. It’s also been shown to have less side effects than common analgesics.
When to see a doctor
The treatment of most sports-related sprain injuries can be self-managed, however in some instances the injury may be more serious and require specialist treatment. Immediately consult your doctor if you experience any of the following symptoms:
- The swelling does not go down even after rest, ice and elevation over a 24 hour period.
- The limb cannot bear any kind of weight or resistance.
- The injured area looks out of shape, not straight or movement is abnormal.
- The skin begins to change in colour, not consistent with how you would normally bruise.
With a script from your doctor, National Custom Compounding can make up compounds of ketoprofen, capscaisin and a range of other sports formulations. For more information call us on 1300 731 755 to speak to one of our helpful team members.